How is one different after baptism? We've already learned that one is different in that his/her sins are forgiven. The new Christian has entered into a saved state that did not exist prior to baptism (please review our study up to this point should you have questions regarding baptism leading to forgiveness and salvation). In what other ways is the new Christian different after baptism?
Let's study Galatians 3:26-29. The Galatians had trouble with "Judaizing" teachers. These were people who taught that one must continue to observe the tenets contained within the old law in order to please God. Paul clearly shows in this powerful letter the temporary nature of the old law. This covenant was never meant to be in force permanently--once Jesus died on the cross the old law ceased to be in effect. I've published on my website a study on the relationship between the Old and New Covenants. Please review this study should you have any questions regarding the temporary nature of the Old Law. For now, lets focus on the final 4 verses of Galatians chapter 3. Paul tells the Galatian Christians that they are "all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (verse 26). In verse 27 we see that the one who has been baptized into Christ has put on Christ. How is this important? Paul tells us in verse 29. Those who are Christ's are also Abraham's seed. What is the benefit of being Abraham's seed? In verse 29 Paul tells us that the seed of Abraham are heirs according to the promise. What promise did Abraham receive? We read of this promise in Genesis 12:3. The Lord tells Abraham that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed. Paul reveals to us who the seed of Abraham was, through whom all nations of the earth would be blessed--he was Christ (Galatians 3:16). Paul also tells us in Ephesians 1:3 that God "hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." So, the blessings promised to all nations are the spiritual blessings found where? In Christ! How does one put on Christ? Through baptism! What spiritual blessings are available to the one who has not put on Christ in baptism? None! So, the one who has put on Christ is Abraham's seed. Abraham's seed are heirs of the promise given to Abraham. The promise given Abraham was that through him all nations of the earth would be blessed. The seed through which those blessings would come was Christ. Those who have put on Christ have been blessed with all spiritual blessings. But one cannot put on Christ without being baptized. Therefore those who are not baptized have not put on Christ, they are not Abraham's seed, they have no access to the promise made to Abraham, and have received no spiritual blessings. Have you put on Christ?
Those who have been baptized into Christ are dead to sin, and walk in newness of life. Let's look at Romans chapters 5 and 6. In verse 20 of chapter 5, Paul tells us of the magnitude of God's grace: where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. He doesn't end his teaching there, however. In verse 21 he tells us where grace reigns: through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. So, the grace of God abounds to those who have submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Paul uses the Jews as an example of a people who failed to submit themselves to the righteousness of God. In Romans 10:1-4 Paul tells of his desire that Israel might be saved. But what was keeping them from salvation? Their ignorance of God's righteousness (verse 3)! They had a zeal for God, but their zeal was not based on knowledge (verse 2). Their lack of knowledge and going about to establish their own righteousness kept them from submitting to the righteousness of God (verse 3). Just as the Jews in the first century, people today often fail to submit to the righteousness of God as they go about establishing their own "righteousness". Their lack of knowledge of God's Word doesn't lessen their zeal, but zeal without knowledge will not make one righteous before God. As I was preparing this study on baptism I encountered many writings by people who state that baptism is not necessary for salvation, because baptism is a work and to make baptism necessary for salvation takes away from the grace of God. They fail to understand where one gains access to the grace of God--through righteousness by Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:21). Those who go about to establish their own righteousness have no access to the grace of God unto eternal life. Only when one submits to the righteousness of God will one have access to the blood of Jesus that washes away our sins. One must be certain their zeal for God is based on knowledge. Lets see what Paul teaches in Romans 6:1-12. Paul continues with his thoughts on grace and sin. Verse 1 asks the question, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" If God's grace abounds more than the sin committed, wouldn't His grace be even more evident if one continues in sin? Paul answers the question in verse 2: "God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" In the next 4 verses he gives a beautiful description of what baptism means to the believer. We all know that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life on earth, was crucified by sinful man, died on the cross, was buried in a tomb, and raised from the dead. Those who are baptized into Jesus Christ are baptized into His death (verse 3). Just as Jesus was buried in the earth after His death, the believer is buried in water in baptism (verse 4). Just as Christ was raised from the dead and left the tomb, the believer leaves the watery grave of baptism. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, the baptized believer leaves the grave of baptism to walk in newness of life (verse 4). Please notice verse 5: Paul tells us that "if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection:" What hope do we have to be resurrected unto life as was Jesus if we haven't been planted together in the likeness of his death? None! The American Standard Version translates "planted together" in a way that may make more sense to us today. It reads, "become united with Him" rather than "planted together." When we are obedient to the will of God in baptism, we become united with Christ. As you can see from the definition of united, we become a single unit with Christ after rising from the watery grave of baptism. Now that we are a single unit with Christ, who lives in us? Do both Christ and I live together? Paul tells us that we are crucified, and Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Self dies on the cross, and Christ reigns in its stead. However, not only are we united in the likeness of His death, but we are also united in the likeness of His resurrection. Again, what hope do we have for resurrection to life if we are not united with Christ? None! How are we united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection? By being united with Him in the likeness of His death. How are we united with Him in the likeness of His death? Through baptism. We read in verses 6 and 7 that "our old man us crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." To walk in newness of life is to live our lives as servants of God, rather than servants of sin (Romans 6:20-22). However, in order to be made free from sin one must obey that form of doctrine delivered in the scriptures (Romans 6:17-18). To obey any other form of doctrine will not lead to the forgiveness of sin. Just as the Jews were zealous for a form of religion that appeared Godly but was ignorant of God's righteousness, many people today are zealous for a form of religion that appears righteous but which is based on ignorance of God's Word. We must heed the examples of error given in the scriptures and examine ourselves closely to be certain we are not making the same mistakes.
The baptized believer is added to the church. In Acts 2 we read of the saved being added to the church. We've studied in detail the requirements for salvation Peter preached to those present at Pentecost (Acts 2:38). In verse 41 we read that those who gladly received his word were baptized, and that day about 3,000 souls were added unto them. But unto what were they added? The scriptures tell us in verse 47: the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (those who were being saved, NASB). Prior to their obedience in baptism those who heard Peter's sermon were not members of the Lord's church. However, once they fulfilled the requirements for salvation they were added by the Lord to His church. They didn't have the option of joining the church themselves. Only after they did what the Lord commanded did He add them. How do people enter the ranks of many religious organizations today? Don't they "join" the church of their choice? Is this how one enters the Lord's church? No! We see that one enters the church only after the Lord has added them.
The baptized believer becomes a member of the Lord's body. This is a continuation of the prior paragraph (the believer is added to the church). I separated the two (the church and the body), since many people misunderstand the relationship between the two. We see in Colossians 1:18 that the body of Christ IS the church. Therefore, when one obeys the Word of God one is added to the church by Jesus and becomes a member of His body. Many believe the members of the body mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 refer to different religious organizations all serving under one head (Jesus Christ). Is this doctrine consistent with the teachings of Paul in Colossians 1:18? No! Since the body IS the church, the different members of that body cannot be different churches! The different members of the body are individual members of ONE church: the church built by Jesus and to which He adds members as they are being saved. One does not become a member of the body of Christ until one is baptized into Jesus Christ. (Elsewhere on my site I've published a study dealing with the church and the body in more detail.)
Let's summarize what we've learned about a baptized believer, and how they're different after baptism:
1. Their sins are forgiven.
2. They have entered a saved state.
2. They have put on Christ.
3. They are dead to sin.
4. They walk in newness of life.
5. They are added to the Lord's church.
6. They become a member of the Lord's body.